Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Thanksgiving Eve

 Preached at community ecumenical service, at Faith Lutheran Church, Massillon OH

Thanksgiving, 2021
Joel 2:21-27
Psalm 126
1 Timothy 2:1-7
Matthew 6:25-33

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 So here’s a weird thing.  Thanksgiving is a day set aside for us to give thanks for the abundance in our lives.  But this gospel reading we just heard seems to focus our attention on scarcity.  Most people spend Thanksgiving cooking way too much food, rather than worrying about not having enough.  So why do we get this reading on this day?  What gives?

Well, I think the answer lies in the word “worry.”  Some of the people most focused on wealth are the people with the most wealth.  Billionaires who spend all their time worrying about how to become the world’s first Trillionaire.  This gospel reading sounds like Jesus is preaching to the poor folks, but I think he’s preaching even harder to the rich people.  Why are you worried about your fancy clothes and your banquet table and your fancy house and your stock options?  It’s not that you don’t have enough; it’s that you have too much.

What I really like about this reading is the part about the birds.  They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns.  But if you’ve ever watched the activity around a bird feeder, you know that birds definitely put in the effort to find food.  It’s not like the food comes to them.  They look for food, and they find food, and they eat food.  But what they don’t do is store up food for tomorrow.  They don’t worry about tomorrow . . . because they don’t even know what a “tomorrow” is, right?

Birds don’t have pockets or purses or barns.  So they live day to day.  And then there’s us.  We’re supposed to not only plan for today tomorrow and next week, we’re supposed to plan for our retirement and—as any life insurance agent will tell you—even plan for our death!  Every message we get about responsible adulting is focused on the future.  What will tomorrow bring?  Think about the grandchildren you don’t even have yet.  You and I are a long way from this sort of “Hippie lessons of the Buddha” that Jesus is giving us today.  It’s hard to know how to apply it to our lives, to be honest.

We are told, in essence, “Don’t worry because God provides.”  Well, okay, how does God provide?  I’m afraid we all secretly think God provides in the way of manna in the desert.  You know, like when I’m hungry, a can of soup will just fall from the sky.  When I need a parking spot, God will magically provide one.  But hopefully we all agree, that’s not the case.  How does God provide?  I think the answer is, God provides through other people.  

Here’s a great example:  One thing I am very thankful for this year is a safe, effective vaccine available to anyone who wants it.  And you know who made that possible?  Other people.  God imbues us with wisdom and knowledge and creativity, and people used those to create a vaccine that will save millions of lives.  God provides through other people.  But it takes people being willing to use their God-given gifts to make a difference.

And, for an example on the other end of things, there is no reason anyone anywhere should starve to death when there are other people around.  There is plenty of food in the world to feed every person every day.  And yet . . . well, you’ve seen the news.  We have the food, and we have the people to distribute it, but something gets lost along the way.

Either way, it all comes down to people.  The reason you’re even here in this church tonight is because somebody told you about Jesus.  When you were a child, somebody might have taken you to church.  When you were a baby, somebody definitely fed you, since newborns are even more helpless than the birds of the air.  Other people have brought you to where you are today.  God has given us each other.

At Thanksgiving we express our gratefulness for the many blessings of this life.  Out of habit, we show that mostly by covering our tables with more food than we can possibly eat in one sitting.  But one of the greatest gifts, possibly the most tangible blessing in our lives, is that God has given us each other.  And when we have people in our lives who love us, who reflect love of Jesus back to us, then we don’t have to worry about what we will eat or what we will wear.  Because even though we don’t know what the future will bring, we know we are walking into that future together.

May God make us always grateful that we have each other.  And may God inspire each one of us to reach out to others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.  We are the ones through whom God provides.


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